Day 9 (Sunday, May 11): Peace in the Mountains

First time wearing a kurti today! It’s made of a silky material with a blue swirly pattern. The size is a little too loose, but extremely comfy. Fellow group members commented on the kurti. I questioned “doesn’t this look like PJs?” and they responded “but that’s the best part.” Very true. I am planning to wear this kurti to sleep in the states. Even though the material is so light, I am still sweating.

We took a 45-minute bus ride to a temple on the mountain. A MPH student named Sandeep accompanied us on the trip. Had a nice talk with him about our group & objectives in this study abroad program and about his future career plans. He graduated from university, worked as a nurse for two years, went back to school to get his MPH and he is now graduating in July. He asked what other trips we go on. I said Mysore, and he said that’s like a 9-hour drive but the weather is less humid. The drive to the temple was beautiful – full of lush and green vegetation. On the way up the mountain, there were a lot of hairpin loops as indicated by the road signs. The first thoughts that popped in my head were biochemistry and molecular genetics. Bahaha (#sciencenerdforev). First monkey family siting on the side of the road! Too cute.

Image We stopped at Sunset Point where an overhang was available for seeing the view.

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We took a group picture and selfies were inevitable. A lot of flies and bugs were buzzing around the pavilion. Near the bus on a stone ledge, people placed a lot of mini bananas to attract monkeys. One popped up as I was walking over there, and I got a selfie along with a regular pic of Sahanna and I with it. I feel connected to monkeys because I was born in the year of the monkey according to the Chinese zodiac.

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We rode another 10 minutes or so to the temple. We took off and checked our shoes at an office shack. We went in a couple temples and observed while others prayed. Sandeep and Sahanna participated in some rituals. There was a river where patrons wash themselves before praying. Large fishes that looked like baby sharks were splashing around in the water too. Adam is now infamously known to take candid pictures of everyone so I made it a mission to catch a candid of him.

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We went into a dining hall filled with rows and rows of people sitting on the marble floor. Silver pans were being passed out. I was really nervous about the situation at first because I am not used to eating with only my hands. I feel less sanitary. I ended up eating the larger chunks of rice that weren’t soaked in the curry. Filmed a quality vlog segment with Lauren and Lindsey in the dining hall.

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The washroom turned into the exit and I felt uncomfortable walking bare foot in there because the floors were wet. I normally don’t walk barefoot anywhere. I was scared of contracting bacteria, but then we walked on the extremely hot asphalt so hopefully that cleansed the feet. Lindsey was holding a baby and taking a picture with it when I came out of the washroom. I noticed that a lot of people there were fascinated by Americans. We walked to the entrance of the temple and attempted to retrieve our shoes but needed Sandeep’s token. It turns out Kelsey F. lost us somewhere and never got to eat so Sandeep went with her. I caught a good candid of Adam on the way to the entrance. Muahaha. We waited in the tunnel entrance and endured many many stares and laughs. We stood along the wall for probably 20 minutes and Lindsey got asked by or simply was handed a baby from like seven families who wanted pictures with her. She enjoyed it. I think her Kurti outfit and America appearance attracted them.

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I was wondering what the reasoning for this fascination was. I am thinking it is because India is so homogenous that they do not see people of different color on the streets. The homogeny is probably exacerbated at temples. I think Sahanna was the one who shared this with us at the beach, but she said that people like taking pictures with Americans because they like to show off that they have an American “friend”. I later find out that parents throw their babies or children into an American’s arms because they think it foreshadows good fortune. I think I’m too “Asian” to be different here.

After Sandeep came back, we retrieved our shoes and were harassed by women beggars with babies. I remember someone telling me not to give money to beggars.

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On the descent down the mountain, several boys in wife beaters were jamming to music from their car on the side of the road waving around tree branches. I like the free spirit haha.

Next stop, 1000 temples. Napping on the bus while maneuvering on a mountain feels like a rollercoaster. Soothing in a way. The Jain temple is noted to have 1000 pillars. A third religious site that housed a naked statue man was planned, but it was closed so we headed back to Manipal. Hopped off bus feeling tired and dirty. Thanked Sandeep for accompanying us. Wish we got to talk to him more – nice guy.

Tea time: pastry with curried veggies inside (dip in ketchup) and chocolate brownie that doesn’t have the same taste as US brownies. Some people started saying it tastes like chap stick. The consistency was the same and I couldn’t stop thinking about chap stick as I was eating it but in the end reminded myself that this might be a different kind of chocolate.

Walked back to hostel around 6pm. There I uploaded pics to computer, washed clothes, used make-up wipes for face, washed feet and wrote for blog. Cafeteria food for dinner was spicy, but got to try the doughnut-like dessert that you always have to ask for for them to give it to you (this time they included it). Pretty tasty. Went with Kelsey R. to buy dessert from the stores in the back of the cafeteria. She purchased a mango milkshake (50 rupees) and I got a mango smoothie (120 rupees). Common consensus said mine tasted better so I guess you pay for the quality. Kelsey, Lauren and I left together.

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At the Manipal round-about intersection, I was aware of two people sitting on some stairs overlooking the road. I was just walking and minding my own business when a friendly face was lit up by car lights and he was staring back at me. Me in my head- “do I know you?” He starts smiling and waved. I gave a shy wave and smiled back. It was Raushan, my friend! It’s an interesting and heartwarming feeling to have someone you’ve become acquainted with in a foreign country with whom you are able to greet every time you see them. #blessed

Day 8 (Saturday, May 10): First Field Trip, Anatomy Museum & Circus

9:30am: Met in front of the Manipal Library for the first field trip! Dr. Raj was planning to accompany us, but something came up so we went with Sameer and Dr. Rao (unsure if that’s his name). We boarded a yellow Manipal bus to the Anganavadi Centre about 10 minutes away. The teal building itself was modest in size and a pink colored school was in the background. ImageWe took our shoes off and went in. We sat around the perimeter of the square-shaped room and discussed what exactly an Anganavadi Centre is. Two women oversee the place: one’s a teacher and the other an assistant/cook. Two little boys were there when we arrived. About 25 children regularly come to this particularly center. Paintings/murals covered the walls and served as a way to teach the children subjects such as seasons, animals and colors.

ImageThe children play games outside. Sameer termed this education as non-formal preschool overseeing newborns to children five years of age. Instruction is taught in the local language (Kanada), but a little bit of English is taught also. In addition to education for the children, the Anganavadi Centre is also a supplementary feeding and medical care program for low-income families. The children are fed according to a menu posted on the wall and the families also get rations of rice, beans, etc. They track the children’s growth according to a growth chart to check for normal development.

ImageMedical care and immunizations are given at other facilities once a family is enrolled in this program. Women are allowed two pregnancies to receive ante-natal and post-natal care. A program for adolescent girls exists also. Someone questioned about sexual education which was very interesting. They used to teach it in the schools, but there were a lot of protests from people to stop sex ed because they thought it would encourage sexual behaviors at a young age. Fascinating how this is the same controversy as in the US. So now they do not teach it but try to include some information under the general category of “health”. Another program is in the works right now about sexual education. Someone else questioned about the prevalence of teenage pregnancy. Teenage pregnancies are not really common because of culture. If it does happen, almost all of them get an illegal abortion because they are ashamed and do not want anyone to know. Women previously used cloth diapers for menstruation, but they are switching to more sanitary western napkins. I was unaware that India has a pretty decent healthcare program for the economically disadvantaged. This preschool program is funded by the government. Went outside, took some pictures and boarded the bus.

Arrived at Manipal and waited until 1pm to eat lunch with Lindsey and Taniqua. For the first time, we did not sit at the long table because people were eating at different times. It was a pleasant change – felt more like a local student. Then, we had half an hour to spare before the 2:30pm meeting time so we went back to the hostel. Wrote in journal for a little bit and went back outside.

As I was exiting the hostel, the security and front desk ladies flagged me down with their native language. I was extremely confused, but went in her office and she handed me the telephone. Dr. Raj was on the other end. Hahah. He apologized for not being able to make the 2:30pm meeting time, but will likely reach Manipal at 3:30pm. He said he didn’t know how to tell everyone. I told him everyone should all be at the cafeteria so I can relay the message. What a nice coincidence that I came out at the right time. Haha. Some of us then decided to check out the Museum of Anatomy and Physiology. I was thoroughly impressed. Pretty large in size and extremely comprehensive – had every system in the human body (flashback to anatomy last semester), an encased embalmed body (kind of freaky. Someone mentioned it looked as if it could wake up at any minute), anomalies and diseases. The scariest part was the medical anomalies. There were a plethora of encased babies with different types of developmental disorders. Some of them seemed unreal… it was so sad 😦 Makes me nervous to have children. I do not believe we have a museum like this in the US. People were comparing this to the COSI Bodies exhibit, but I never went.

I was with Anna when we left the museum, and we decided to sit outside the cafeteria with Drew, Xhonela and Nikki. Dr. Raj rolled up in Dr. Kamath’s car. He said we would hate him if he told us why he was late. He was at Manipal U’s president’s 50th wedding anniversary. Dr. Kamath received an invite so he took Dr. Raj as a guest. Haha.

We boarded the city bus to the circus. This time, we got a real city bus experience because it was extremely crowded. At one point, the money collector was waving me down to move further to the back of the bus so that we can pack more people in like sardines. Thankfully, a girl needed to get off, so I decided to sit in her seat which was more bearable then knocking elbows with everyone around you in a tight space. A group of us decided to take some selfies, which is always fun.

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It cost 200 rupees to enter the circus. Many of us had mixed feelings after the 2.5 hour show. We were told that no animals would be used, but we got a not so pleasant surprise. Some of the people in our group were very sensitive about animal treatment so it made me think further about the potential horrible conditions the animals go through. They are trained to perform tricks, such as ringing a bell, blowing colored dust, playing cricket and riding a bicycle, which was neat to see, but abuse was likely endured. Animals were not made to be captured and conditioned to do human tricks, but to roam free in nature. I did enjoy some of the music selection (Be My Lover 90’s dance hit, Waka Waka by Shakira, and Ring my Bell by Enrique). The African performers were really energetic and lively, even putting fire down their pants.

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After the show, some people went back to the hostel, some went shopping in Udupi City and some of us ate at the restaurant we went to last time (Gokula Krishna). I ordered Hakka noodles off the Asian menu, which was a nice variation from curry.

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Everyone ordered Asian except for two people. Nine of us total were dining there. The power went out three times, which I have gotten used to happening. We attempted to find a store someone saw last time we were in Udupi, but just ended up lost. A guy from a travel agency saw us on the streets and told us to tell Dr. Raj to call him because he is not picking up his phone. Haha. We rode rickshaws back to Manipal.

Showered and dropped right to bed. When I woke up at 2am, my laptop was still on and next to me so I really did fall asleep abruptly. It doesn’t help that I was trying to do work in bed.

Day 7 (Friday, May 9): Play it Hard

Woke up in the middle of the night freezing so I flipped off the universal switch in the room. Woke up in the morning with a warm room. I got up at 7:15am and stayed in room until 8:45am to do some last minute studying for the first quiz. While I was brushing my teeth, the water trickled and slowly stopped altogether. I looked around the bathroom and used the bidet to wipe the toothpaste off my face. When the water turned back on in the afternoon, the color was brown for a couple minutes. This made me think about the availability of clean water (or lack of) in the world and how we are so fortunate to not have to worry about access or sanitation in the US compared to other countries. Sometimes I take hour-long showers because it feels nice, but with this new perspective I will think twice about it. I may be naive about this topic, but I wonder why other countries cannot gain permanent access to clean water. Financial reasons? I looked to the trusty Wikipedia for some answers. Here is an excerpt about India:

India’s growing population is putting a strain on the country’s water resources. The country is classified as “water stressed” and a water availability of 1,000-1,700 m3/person/year.[3] According to UNICEF, in 2008 88% of the population had access and was using improved drinking water sources.[4] “Improved drinking water source” is an ambiguous term, ranging in meaning from fully treated and 24 hour availability to merely being piped through a city a sporadically available.[5] This is in part due to large inefficiencies in the water infrastructure in which up to 40% of water leaks out.[5]

In the same 2008 UNICEF report, only 31% of the population had access and used improved sanitation facilities.[4] Open sewers are common place in urban areas.[5] A little more than half of the 16 million residents of New Delhi, the capital city, have access to this service.[5] Every day, 950 million gallons of sewage flows from New Delhi into the Yamuna River with any significant forms of treatment.[5] This river bubbles with methane and was found to have a fecal coliform count 100,000 time the safe limit for bathing.[5]

Due to surface water contamination due to lack of sewage treatment and industrial discharge, groundwater is becoming increasingly dependent on and exploited in many regions of India.[6] This process is being expedited by heavily subsidized energy costs for agriculture practices;[6] which make up roughly 80% of India’s water resource demand.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_issues_in_developing_countries

Breakfast: round bread-like ball, omelet, veggie curry and tea. I went to the Manipal Library rock garden to take the online book quizzes in preparation for the quiz. I completed three online quizzes and did not get to two. The real quiz was good. I’m thinking I may have missed one multiple choice question, but let’s hope for the best. Then, Raj lectured on two topics: cultural & environmental effects on health.

Lunch: barley rice, veggies with curry flavor, vegetable curry, paneer (cheese) curry and coconut milk jelly dessert. Some people bought ice cream for only 50 rupees. I need to get some one day. A group of us went to the store. I got another 4-pack of toilet paper ($2.50), tide bar ($0.17) and a light green blanket with a stitched flower design ($3.40). This is weird, but buying items here is a liberating feeling… succumbing to that consumerism, which is good and bad. Good – because the goods in India are cheaper compared to the US. Bad – because I don’t want to buy items I don’t need. I’m usually conscious about spending money. I’m still not completely used to the exchange rate here. When I’m using a 1000 or 500 valued bill, I perceive that as a lot because my mind is still in US mode. The blanket will come in handy because I brought a small and thin blanket for the trip that doesn’t provide enough warmth and also does not cover my feet so I am excited to sleep comfortably tonight.

Went to Manipal Library around 1:30pm. Today was Dr. Bhat’s last lecture with us on Indian society and culture. He traveled all the way here from Hyderabad to provide these lectures for us and is going home tomorrow. I feel so bad because I experienced the post-lunch dip during his lectures several times. It was not my intention to fall asleep :/ We took a group pic with Dr. Bhat in the classroom.

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ImageAs a group, we walked to the Marena, the “RPAC” of Manipal University. It’s a beautiful facility with great views of a green and luscious valley. Their slogan is “play it hard” compared to the RPAC’s “life in motion”. The front desk guy told us about the amenities and policies:

  • Non-markable soles are required for most of the sports offered.
  • One has to bring their own equipment for sports.
  • Patrons have to bring new shoes with them to workout; no outside shoe can be used inside.
  • Some amenities include: sauna, pool, badminton, simulator games, basketball, volleyball, ping-pong, indoor track, weights, cricket and tennis.
  • They close during class hours (1-4pm) to encourage students to go to class.

ImageThe Marena is on a hill so the floors go down into the ground (-1,-2,-3,-4,-5). It was funny seeing negative signs in the elevator. I tried to take a picture, but they did not like photography in the building. They took us on a tour of the facility, and we had to take off our shoes. I like that they keep it clean. I learned that cameras are not allowed when I was vlogging on the track. I would totally workout there if they didn’t have such stringent policies. I don’t have another clean pair of shoes, but it was nice to see the facility.

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We walked back in time for tea. Something that tasted like fried tofu balls were served. I ate one and gave the other to Lindsey because I don’t enjoy fried foods. Went back to hostel and washed all my dirty clothes with the new Tide bar. I have decided to try hand-washing clothes again and I liked it this time maybe because I knew it would be more clean with the Tide as opposed to another bar soap. I also recorded a five-minute video of myself washing a shirt. I am thinking about speeding it up for the real vlog to give people an idea on how to hand-wash clothes. I didn’t know how before coming here, but I figured out a method and wanted to share because it’s a good thing to know in life I guess?

Day 6 (Thursday, May 8): Inspired by Life

*I am so behind on blog posts, but I will try to catch up! It’s difficult living in the moment while also documenting the details…*

For the first time, I did not wake up with my alarm that was set for 7:15am. The snooze button called my name, and I ended up sleeping until 7:45am. I even felt like I could have slept a couple more hours. Must have been the exhaustion finally catching up with me. At 8:30am, around ten people were still at breakfast. I wasn’t feeling the breakfast which was pancakes (Indian-style), curry and tea. I got two toasts for Taniqua.

At 9:20ish, I walked to the Manipal library with Adam. We had to wait outside the room a little past 9:30am while more of our people trickled in. Dr. Raj’s lecture was about ethics and health systems. He talked about how schooling works here:

Grades 1-7: Elementary and Middle School
Grades 8-10: High School. Pick science or humanities track. Highly preferred track is engineering or medicine.
Grades 11-12: Pre-university
College: Professional school

Once you pick a track, you’re essentially stuck in it. Ex. no changing majors like in the US and no freedom to pursue a medical degree despite earning a BS in art.

Other quick facts:

1. In India, people visit the doctor only when they are sick. Once given the treatment and they feel better, they won’t return despite the doctor’s advice. This reminds me of my mom when we had no health insurance. She went to see an eye doctor because of a floaty and flash of light. They told her it’s a normal process of eye aging. The doctor told her to come back in 4 weeks to check-up on it. She never did because of cost, and the fact that there’s no treatment.

2. Raj was a part of the SAGE cognitive test project, which I happened to see on the OSU College of Medicine YouTube several months ago. Haha I guess it does pay off to watch every single video that they post. It’s a questionnaire to test if an individual’s cognition and memory is declining with old age. If the frequent testing shows a sharp decline in scores of the SAGE test, that is a harbinger of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is of particular interest to me because of my grandmother and background in Neuroscience.

Dr. Raj wants to take us to the circus because someone from our group asked and also on a tour of the Manipal/Kasturba Medical College hospital. He said he did not want to go to the hospital (sounds like he adversely hates the hospital environment), but can arrange a visit for us. I am looking forward!

Went to the Manipal store after class and bought a blue Manipal U – inspired by life t-shirt for 450 rupees ($7.50). I chose it because of the displayed motto – inspired by life. About five other people were in the store also and a couple people bought sweatshirts for $22. They felt very soft and comfy but I wouldn’t wear it here so not a good investment. I tried to find postcards, but they didn’t have any. Dr. Raj informed me a couple days ago that Mysore would have some.

IMG_5299Lunch consisted of barley rice, sweet rice, beans, veggie curry (my fave) and another type of curry. Walked back to room around 1pm with Lindsey. I tried on the t-shirt, and it was a little too loose-fitting, but I guess that’s good for India. It’s also 100% cotton so it’ll shrink. I walked over to the library by myself. Walking alone can be so refreshing. I pay more attention to the environment and people and think about how blessed I am to be able to study in this country on the other side of the world.

All of our students were in the rock garden when I arrived, and Adam led the way to the classroom. Dr. Bhat talked about secularism and social change in India. Adam inquired about my blog, and I gave him the URL. Makes me happy when others are interested in reading. Writing is a passion of mine, and it’s exciting to share it with an audience other than myself. Dr. Bhat told the Manipal administration people to turn down the AC, so it felt comfortably warm in the classroom as opposed to an ice box. He’s so cute. He told the people he has class at 3:30pm so that they would turn it down right away.

IMG_0401Dr. Raj told us to meet him on the ground floor of the Manipal Library so that we can get our ID pictures taken to access the gym facility. Meanwhile, several of us were reading the bulletin boards. One was by a de-stress organization advertising their multitude of activities. The second one was a women empowerment board with international women leaders. The third one had posters and ads. Dr. Raj told us about the computer room on the first floor too. The ID place was across the street from the university near the market. It was a passport photo place.

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Tea time: coffee cake and bread with curried veggies inside. I enjoyed the bread. Went back to dorm to chill until dinner. Signed up for room cleaning with Lindsey. I was feeling really sleepy up until dinner. I saw Lindsey locking her door as I opened my door, so I told her to meet me downstairs.

Dinner: rice, potato curry and 2 other types of curry. I got a small portion, which was the perfect amount. Others got pizza, Chinese food and Subway from the second floor cafeteria. Went back to room to take a shower. During my shower, the cleaning lady came, and I felt bad but thankfully she returned around 9:30pm. It was weird sitting on my bed waiting for her to clean the room. Not used to having other people do things that I normally perform myself, but it does provide a piece of mind for me because I love cleanliness. She even wiped the table! Was not expecting that. She has to keep the door open and that made me paranoid because of the bugs at night especially in the rain. I’m gonna try to keep my room very clean. I skyped mom for about an hour. I was studying also so wasn’t too into conversation but it actually made my day a little better. Knowing someone cares about you. I think I had a slight bout of homesickness today. I felt kind of lonely, and it’s probably partly my own fault for not reaching out to others but it’s so hard to change natural tendencies. I should keep reading the book I brought with me on this trip, “Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by: Susan Cain, to discover some truth in this personality type and how to be a better citizen of the world as a reserved person. Look out for a blog post about the book in the near future 🙂 The thunderstorm could be heard all night, and the power switched off twice for a couple minutes. I thought electricity would be out for the night, but it was okay after several minutes. I studied for the first quiz until 2am. I need to get to bed earlier.

Day 5 (Wednesday, May 7): “Great things happen when you just sit down because a lot can happen over coffee”

Slept well last night only waking up once and then sleeping right up until the alarm at 7:30am. Had the intentions to vlog the hostel in the morning but Anna was leaving just as I opened my door so she waited for me to get ready. Breakfast was pretty good: potato and onion laden with curry, omelet, toast, jam and tea. Someone on our trip said they really appreciate the toast and jam because they liked the breakfast food culture in America. In Indian (and Asian) cuisine, breakfast food does not really exist. Breakfast, lunch and dinner consist of very similar types of food.

I left breakfast early with Kelsey F and Anna to go to the store. The Manipal convenience store was not open yet so Anna bought one mango at a stand. Then, we took a new route to the library which was an opportunity to explore more of the Manipal campus. Sat in the rock garden for a little bit to use wifi.

Dr. Raj lectured on the interplay amongst health, education, economy and poverty. I needed to sit in the front of the classroom along the wall to charge my computer and a mosquito was flying about (silently freaked out). Thought I wouldn’t encounter any of those inside an air-conditioned room. Lesson learned: always wear bug spray in the morning. Surprisingly, the internet connection worked perfectly up front. Haha.

ImageThen, went back to the hostel and was able vlog as I was coming back down from the 6th floor. I ran into Sesen and Alexa under the wifi tree and plopped down next to them. I did a mini vlog featuring the girls and also Lindsey and Ashley as they came down. Lunch was pretty good now that I’ve figured out to get vegetarian (the chicken was always with bones and sometimes spicy which was difficult to eat). I got barley rice, roti, chickpeas, potato balls in curry and another curry that is my favorite. It looks like there are small tapioca in it, but I’m pretty sure that’s not correct.

ImageAdam told us about a local friend he made on the citibus. He’s going to OSU next year! They’re Facebook friends now. That’s crazy and so cool! Dan and I walked to the library while the others went to the hostel. Taniqua and Alvien were already at the rock garden. I used wifi on my phone and checked Instagram. OSU global posted a pic of the Wolfe recipients doing O-H-I-O at End Point. Sooooo exciting!

Class at 2pm: more culture and society. Finished caste lecture and started nationalism. Had some interesting talks and questions about the prevalence of child marriages, abstinence and female circumcision.

Tea time at 4pm consisted of French toast-like bread. I was skeptical about eating it because I vowed to myself that I will try to pick more healthier options. I feel like I am gaining weight on this trip because they feed us so well. I think I will name my India Facebook album “Tea Time” because it’s my favorite time of day.

Walked back to the hostel around 5:30pm and the front desk lady informed us that the IT guy came. We are finally getting our internet connection checked out so that the wifi is not spotty. I went to my room and tried logging on to the internet. It was working slowly. A couple minutes later, the guy knocked and just said “plug in the Ethernet cord”. I asked him to connect it just in case I didn’t know how, and the wifi worked perfectly fast after that. The only downside is that it needs to be connected to the wall. I uploaded pictures to the computer, watched an AprilJustinTV vlog (my inspiration for vlogging) and blogged. Anna knocked on my door to go to dinner. I wasn’t ready due to the newfound wifi connection, but quickly got ready and left. Dinner was pretty good. There was a mashed curry potato dish with what tastes like fake meat for vegetarians. The spicy corn was too spicy for me.

ImageAfterwards, we planned to play cards in the coffee shop in the main library building. Went back to hostel to get Manipal ID cards with Rachel & Sahanna, then Sahanna needed to wait for Sesen so Rachel and I gathered people to walk to the coffee shop. I told Sahanna I watched all the vlogs on my computer and was just laughing to myself in my room because of her narrations in them. Sahanna thinks she’s awkward and said she should act more normal. And I told her “noo being yourself is the best part”. Rachel expressed interest in appearing in my vlog. More and more people are beginning to know about my vlog project so that’s nice because then I can try to include everyone by the end of the trip. I’m also coming to terms with the fact that talking to a camera can be awkward and silly, but is such a powerful way to capture moments.

ImageStudents were sprawled out in all corners of the coffee shop studying. Lindsey bought a frappuccino and chocolate cake. Sahanna also bought a chocolate cake. We sat in a circle on the floor and finished the food before checking our belongings and passing through security. We proceeded to the 6th floor (highest) and formed a circle on the floor once again. The climate was extremely humid up there. First, we played spoons (or highlighters). I was eliminated first. Then, they wanted to play Mafia (card game) so I assumed the role of narrator. I dug into my creative juices to conjure up stories about how someone was “killed” by the mafia. I don’t think of myself as a creative person so this took some brainstorming. I used a monsoon, Godzilla, taking a spaceship to Mars & never returning and hanging out of a crowded bus. Returned to the room around 10:30pm. Skyped with mom, showed her the room and the 2 kurtis I bought. Then, I wanted to publish the Day 3 blog which took me up until 2am. I was so tired that it was a very good sleep, but I should probably keep a better sleep routine because the days need full energy.

Day 4 (Tuesday, May 6): Mingling with the Locals

IMG_5254Breakfast was really good. Tasted like Asian cuisine with what I would call mei fun (the noodles pictured above in Cantonese). There were also curried potatoes, omelets, toast and jam. I also tried the coffee for the first time. It’s similar to the milk chai tea so it was tasty.

We received a lot of cultural and societal stories from Dr. Raj in class today:

1. If a pedestrian is hit in traffic, the person who hit them most likely runs away, especially if they’re not from the same town. A witness would help you and call the ambulance. If the person in the vehicle stays, other people will hit them.

2. From Dubai to India, you see a lot of boxes serving as suitcases. A lot of people make money from the middle east and are penny-pinchers so they will use boxes. If you are with this crowd, you will experience a lot of questions at customs.

3. Traditionally, babies are not named upon birth. They are named within 6 months. Most names are religious or relate to nature.

4.The template for a name is town born in, family name, and first name. To use our resident director as an example, his name is H.N. Nagaraja. The H (Haikady) is the town. N is the first letter of the family name. Nagaraja is his first name, which means king cobra.

5. Growing up in an extended family (uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents) is very normal. This parallels to Asian culture because we place emphasis on the family unit and taking care of your elders.

After class, I walked with Sesen to the wifi tree. Wifi really does work there!

Lunch: yellow rice, barley rice, spicy chick pea curry, another curry that was less dense and delicious, beans and a dish of tomato and onion in white sauce – this one didn’t settle for my taste buds. I went back and tried a coconut milk-like jelly dessert. It was served warm and reminded me of a dessert we have in Vietnamese culture. In fact, they taste almost identical so I enjoyed that. Food is such a fascinating topic to look at from culture to culture.

IMG_5256I also had a chance to talk to a student at lunch! His name is Raushen. He knew that we were OSU public health students studying abroad. He said he befriended some people from last year’s trip and knew we had a group that consistently visits. He asked me if I knew 2 students by name and I didn’t. I told him that there are 60,000 students at OSU so it’s difficult to know everyone. Later, I was sitting with Sesen in the rock garden using the wifi and she was looking at a graduation picture of the girl he mentioned. She graduate with a degree in public health so she does exist. Another crazy world connection. He is a 3rd year pharmacy student from the north and said it’s a different environment down here. I told him how people have said all cities in India are very different from one another. I didn’t know that Manipal U is like the ivy leagues of the US. Manipal U is a private college and costs a substantial amount for the common Indian student, but the education from this place is so sought after because of the brand/name. He asked how many students were with us. He told me that the long table our group normally sits at is called the fresher table because they reserve it for freshmen students during August/September. He asked if Sahanna was Indian and where her parents are from. I only knew her dad was from Gujarati. He said she looks like one and that every trip has one Indian. I said yeah it’s nice because she can tell us more about the food we eat and other cultural information. He questioned “it’s spicy huh?” I said “yep”. He asked what field trips we go on. I only knew Mysore. He told me about a beautiful place south of here that was influenced by the French. I admitted I didn’t know much of where we’re going, but he said enjoy it. He talked about beaches and I said we just went to one a couple days ago. I then commented that it’s interesting this university is very international and attracts a lot of students from different countries. He mentioned it started out as a medical college, so that’s why there’s so many med students on campus. They have a superior medical program. I mentioned Dr. Raj pointing out a Malaysian medical school here. I asked why that’s so. He said he didn’t really understand it either and maybe it’s cheaper here than in Malaysia and it might have started out as a 2 year in Malaysia and 2 year in India program but he was like why not just do it all here. Extremely friendly guy.

We walked over to the Manipal library to sit in the rock garden on the first floor. The wifi works beautifully there also. I was able to check emails, fix blog posts, facebook and instagram an O-H-I-O picture with a caption telling people to follow my journey in India. It feels kind of scary showing people your personal blog and letting them read into your thoughts, “aha” moments and other sentimental musings about life, but in the end I hope to positively impact others from the information I write about. And it may serve as a way for people to get to know me better because of my reserved nature.

I also vlogged with Sesen & other people in the rock garden! Yee I’m so excited to compile these videos. It was a good one because I got to capture other people on the trip. Sesen helped narrate. Kelsey, Sahanna and Rachel said hi.

2pm society and culture class with Dr. Bhat: he talked about castes a lot.

Quick fact: Doctors are not allowed to tell the gender of the child before the child is born due to the bias against females.

IMG_5258Tea time: lentil samosas and milk chai tea.

Our plan was to go shopping at 5pm but the sky let down a steady downpour of rain for 10 minutes. We watched from the cafeteria porch and eventually, the rain slowed down. Typically, rain is not seen until June, which is monsoon season but because of global warming or another reason, the pre-monsoon season is starting sooner which could have adverse effects on farmers and crops because the rain is not coming at the right time.

We walked to the outskirts of Manipal and caught a citibus for 8 rupees per person. We arrived in Udupi 10 minutes later. We walked through a town full of small shops, which reminded me of Chinatown. We went to a Krishna temple. Each Hindu temple has a bath where people wash themselves. We saw an elephant, which we weren’t allowed to take pictures of. Then, we went to a department store to buy kurtis or tunics. Finding the perfect one was so difficult because they laid out piles for everyone according to size, but then it all got messed up. It was hard because every piece of clothing was unique in the store not like in the US where they have multiple of each item stacked. The clearance section in the back had really good prices though. I found 5 to try in the dressing room and bought 2. I bought a silky blue-green swirl designed short sleeved kurti and a red long sleeve with a flower body design. The blue one is a bit large in the shoulder/arm region but I am planning to use it as PJ’s back in the states because the silky material is very cool feeling on the skin. The red one fits perfectly, and I am excited to wear it. In total it cost 1260 rupees ($21). The store was on the fancier side so I would like to find more casual modern wear clothing, such as lightweight quarter-sleeved Indian style blouses. We then went back to the temple to watch a ceremony. They put a holy statue at the top of the chariot, live music was played and the elephant led the parade down the street. A line of people pulled the chariot, people lit a path with small sections of fire and they burned a white cloth. They also launched sparklers from the ground. Later, we find out that this ceremony serves as an offering to the God.

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Then we walked to a restaurant near the bus station where we would eat dinner. Near the restaurant, we also got to see a mosque. The restaurant was separated into a meat and vegetarian side. We all decided to choose vegetarian and stick together. I sat at a table with Lindsey, Kelsey F. and Dr. Raj. I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I asked for advice about what to get for a small non-fried meal (not a big fan of fried foods). I ended up getting the Dal Kitche. It was long rice cooked in a non-spicy sort of sweet curry. It had the consistency of a porridge, and I really liked it. It came with a large black pepper chip with yogurt but the pepper was very spicy so I let Kelsey eat it (also not a big fan of too spicy food). For dessert, Kelsey got mango ice cream with a fruit salad (apples, candy cherry, grapes) and Lindsey got a green pista (pistachio) slab of ice cream. My meal cost 75 rupees. In India, 5% tip is pretty generous. At the front of the restaurant, a man stood there greeting people and he asked if we wanted a group picture in front of the restaurant, and we said sure. Sahanna gave him her phone. The picture turned out really nicely despite it being a upward looking angle (normally makes people fat), but the lighting seemed like we were in a greenhouse so it was a good composition. Sesen and Sahanna were comparing hand sizes and Sahanna’s looked baby compared to Sesen and I’m like “hold up, let’s compare Sahanna”. Our hands were exactly the same size. I haven’t many people with the same hand size haha. So we decided we needed to name ourselves. Small hand twins was the first option, and then I said shawties. And Sahanna added Asian to it so now we’re known as Asian shawties. Bahaha. We then boarded the bus back to Manipal U.

10169342_10202837736917972_1235140705099697861_nIt was around 10pm when we got back and most of us felt very exhausted. Went back to the hostel, showered and hand washed my clothes. It was hard work. I have some heavy material such as t shirts and jean-like so that was harder to wash than light clothes, socks and undergarments. It took me about an hour. I might use the linen service next time because I was creating puddles of water in the room by hanging the clothes everywhere. The fan really helps in drying, but I get so cold during the night. I need to buy a warmer blanket… I wear a sweater, t-shirt, pants, scarf and socks to bed. I have a theory that bugs are attracted to humid weather so I am trying to keep my room as cold as possible. So far I’ve only seen several small bugs.

Day 3 (Monday, May 5): Let Me Take a Selfie

I’m just on a roll with these song references. Haha. Coming up with a title for each day is so much fun.

Woke up at 7:15am. Walked to breakfast and saw a few people already there. Others were still in the hostels. Breakfast consisted of onion uttapan (spelling?) – comparable to pancakes, 2 types of curry, bread with jam, and tea. A guy from Canada came over to our table and told us to take his peanut butter and Nutella because he’s leaving soon. He was here for 3 weeks studying global public health I think? They had communication with Manipal students before coming to work on a project together.

Had our very first class at 9:30am. Dr. Raj taught a general intro to global public health. Although he seemed to emphasize on the numerous field trips, he did encourage us to look at supplementary material on Carmen about case studies. They seem very interesting like the prevalence of cataracts in India. I remember we watched a video about this issue in LeaderShape, but I forgot what it was called or even how to find it 😦

– Tried googling and found someone’s personal journal on LeaderShape. This is what she wrote about the video: “We watched a movie about a doctor in India who made cataract surgery easily accessible to the everyman.  He made his own hospital and figured out a way to mass produce the lenses which are placed into the eye after the cataract is removed.  They cost hundreds of dollars if bought from the medical industry, but they are produced in this clinic for a few dollars each.  These accomplishments were born from the vision of a single man.  He found the energy to pursue his vision and make it a reality” Possible final project topic? What an inspiring story. I need to find out more about it.

The wifi doesn’t work in the classroom either so that’s a bummer. Dr. Raj said it’s because we’re right next to the exam room where students take computerized standardized tests. The room is extremely cold which feels nice… but I also don’t have a sweater for when it gets too cold. I thought the bathroom here would offer toilet paper, but nope. I learned to bring a stash of toilet paper everywhere I go.

Afterwards, we visited the campus store. Looked like one you would see on High Street with branded clothes, school supplies and some food. I might consider buying something with Manipal U on it – nice momento. Then I joined Dr. Raj and Lindsey to ask how to exchange US dollars to rupees. Raj went to the public health office to ask someone questions. I saw SAS on Raj’s bag and asked him where he went. It was a biostatistics conference in Canada. He asked why. I told him through Buckeye Leadership Fellows, we have challenges to solve a real world problem so last semester we worked with SAS to smooth their merging of 5 departments and improve communication. We took a trip down to Cary, NC to visit the company. He said they always sponsor these types of conferences. His favorite program is JMP, which is produced by SAS. He said he uses it all the time because he is a professor in biostatistics. I love when the world connects in this crazy coherent way. We went to a bank, but I needed my passport so I planned to go later.

IMG_5235 eSecond class of the day was on Indian culture and society at 2pm. I am specifically intrigued by the history of civilization, languages and religions of India. Here’s a list of quick facts that are interesting:

1. The British colonized India because of the East India Company trade. Mahatma Gandhi was the leading force in promoting Indian dependence from the British. Later, the region of India was separated into mainland India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. Muslims predominate in Pakistan and Hindus in India. West and East Pakistan were different because the East Pakistanis were Bengali so East Pakistan changed its name to Bangladesh. The part of India touching Bangladesh is called West Bengali.

2. Religion breakdown in India: Hinduism (82%), Islam (12%), Christianity (2%), Sikhism (2%) Buddhism (1%), Jainism (<1%), Zoroastrianism (<1%)

3. There are many languages spoken in India. The national language is Hindu, but others are based on region.

4. Arranged marriages are still prevalent but to a lesser extent.

5. Widows are not aloud to remarry.

6. Symbolism of marriage: Red along hair part, bindi, necklace, toe ring. Traditionally, there was no such thing as a ring ceremony but it’s becoming increasingly popular because of globalization.

At tea time, crunchy fried veggies with chai tea was served. After, I walked to the supermarket with a large group. People bought colorful rugs, Tidebars to hand-wash clothes with and mangoes. I also got a selfie with a cow!

ImageI walked to the bank with Sesen, passport in hand. We had a nice chat about heritage, family and boys. Some girls stopped us and wanted to touch Sesen’s hair on the way there. Sesen and I thought the bank teller was cute. Haha. He answered some of our money questions but then left us to fend for ourselves in exchanging. I ended up exchanging $240, which is approximately 13,000 rupees. Sesen realized she left her water bottle at the bank when we were about to enter the hostel so we walked back. The sky was a nice twilight pink color. We got back and went straight to Sahanna’s room because we were told that the IT guy would come to fix the wifi, but he never showed up.

Dinner: spicy chicken, yogurt, barley rice, veggies (so good!) and curry. Was gonna stay to play cards (sidenote: card playing can be seen as gambling so heed caution when playing in public) but needed to come back to the room to wash clothes but didn’t even get to it. I had good internet all night (rarity) so I spent the time blogging, writing emails and facebooking until 1am.